Inmates unsafe in Feni jail


Two Jubo League leaders were threatened inside the condemned cell no. 3 in Feni jail. This is alarming. The two leaders- Feni Jubo League’s former president M Azharul Haque Arzu and former joint secretary Shakhawat Hossain Bhuiyan- complained to home minister and home secretary (security service division) on 9 July that the Anandapur union parishad chairman of Fulgazi upazila, Harun Majumder, Awami League activists Shahab Uddin and S Alam Sabuj. Along with the sub inspector of Feni sadar police station Nazrul Islam, threatened them. The ministry has formed a probe body to investigate the matter.

The incident did not just end there. Miscreants attacked Shakhawat Hossain in Feni’s Madhupur on 17 July, hacking him after he came out of jail on bail. He is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dhaka.

People are not safe anywhere, in or out of jail. Shakhawat Hossain and Azharul Haque were indicted for subversive activities and robbery in a case filed in 2014. It is up to the court to judge their involvement. But, how could the miscreants, who are known as local member of parliament Nizam Uddin Hazari’s men, threaten them inside the jail? The miscreants also threatened them of severe consequence if they disclose the matter outside. It is alleged that SI Nazrul Islam aided and abetted them.

Senior superintendent of Feni jail, Md Rafiqul Quader, claims that no outsider can enter the jail. He maintained that allegation of threatening Azharul and Shakhawat is false. But the superintendent of the jail confessed that he held a meeting with local lawmaker, deputy commissioner, additional deputy commissioner, two Upazila Nirbahi Officers and the civil surgeon inside the jail on 5 June. Also, the lawmaker visited the female cell of the jail in his absence on a weekend on 13 April. The lawmaker’s follower Harun Mazumder also said that he went to the jail with the MP to mediate. Shakhawat filed a writ petition in High Court on June 2014 challenging legality of Nizam Hazari’s parliament membership.

The writ was filed on the basis of a Prothom Alo report which disclosed that Nizam resorted to forgery to get early release from jail in an arms case.

The chain of events is obvious. At first, Shakhawat filed a case against the lawmaker. The lawmaker’s men then retaliated by throwing Shakhawat into jail by filing case against him. And then, they attacked Shakhawat once he had come out of jail. Only death-row convicts are supposed to be kept in condemned cells. There is no answer as to why two prisoners on trial were kept in the cell. It should be investigated whether there is any link in those incidents.

Prison is deemed as the safest place in every country of the world. The state is bound to ensure full security of inmates. But what does this incident of threatening inmates inside the jail indicate? Where is the rule of law?

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